BAN #135: The European heat wave is headed north

July 29, 2019 Issue #135

[Saturn image credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute / Gordan Ugarkovic]


Subscribers are so cool I wish I could deploy them to the Arctic sea.


Is it hot in here, or is it just anthropogenic global warming?

Climate change is real, y’all

As I noted in BAN #131, June 2019 was the hottest June globally ever recorded. July 2019 is also on track to be the hottest July ever, and may very well be the hottest month ever recorded.

The heat wave in Europe is not just some random occurrence; the planet is heating up, and so more extreme temperatures (it was 42.6° C (108.8° F) in Paris last week!) are expected. It’s the math: Because the average temperature is going up, there are a lot more days of extreme high temperatures.

The blob of high pressure that’s been squatting over Europe and causing such misery won’t be there for much longer. That’s good news for Europeans, but bad news for the planet: It’s moving north, toward Greenland and the Arctic.

[Click that to see the video.]

This is extremely bad. Right now, the amount of Arctic sea ice is already at a record low for this time of year. Sea ice is ice that floats in the sea (as opposed to being stored on land, like on Greenland and Antarctica), and the key measurement is its extent. When you put a grid down over the Arctic, the extent is the total area of all grids covered by more than 15% ice. This is where we are now, at the end of July:

[Credit: NSIDC]

The solid gray line is the average for a given day over 1981 – 2010 (note: By that time, global warming had already reduced the amount of sea ice). The dotted line is 2012, which was the previous record low; however that was an exceptional year due to an ice dam collapse that led to accelerated melting. However, even with that, 2019 is already on track to have less sea ice than 2012.

And on top of that, the wave of hot air is pushing toward the Arctic. I expect we’ll see a steeper decline in ice when it hits. Also, it’s passing over Greenland, which is already experiencing huge melting. In 2012, Greenland had unprecedented melting, where more than 97% of the island experienced melting. Even area where it rarely gets above freezing due to high elevation had some melting.

We may see worse melting from this event. Time will tell.

Despite all this, well, deniers gonna deny. The execrable and Orwellian-named Global Warming Policy Forum posted this tweet:

Yeah, even if I believed their data, a trend over three years is no big deal. Why didn’t they show the trend over the past century, which shows the “hockey stick” in temperatures, now confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt?

Trump and the GOP still shovel money at fossil fuel companies, even as green energy prices drop well below fossil fuel. It’s galling to me that the GOP, which talks about being fiscally responsible, is doing this. Of course, these days they lie about everything, so while it’s infuriating it’s not surprising.

If you want to do something about global warming, the single most important thing you can do is make sure a Democrat is our next President in 2020. Tied with that is making sure that Mitch McConnell, Senator from Kentucky and Senate Majority leader, is out of a job at the same time. I can hope for a blue wave to take the Senate next year, but if that doesn’t happen I’ll be consoled if McConnell loses, even to another Republican. The reasons for this are legion, but the fact that he holds up everything that goes across the Senate floor if it’s sponsored by Democrats, including climate change legislation, it reason enough. He has to go.

I live in rural Colorado, which is heavily red. I am keeping my eye on House races around my area, and when the time comes I’ll do what I can to oust the GOP. Due to the politics here it’s unlikely that will happen, but I’ll try. Getting two Democratic Senators may be possible; Cory Gardner is a Trump lickspittle and his seat is vulnerable. Let’s hope — let’s work toward — turning this and other great states blue.

Because that might help, eventually, reduce the red on the temperature maps.



Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

[From Friday’s article. Credit: Mike Olbinski]

Monday July 22, 2019: Astronomers find a rare 'super-Neptune' thanks to Einstein

Tuesday July 23, 2019:  Yo dawg, I heard you like eclipsing binaries, so I put an eclipsing binary around your eclipsing binary

Wednesday July 24, 2019: 20 years in space for astronomers’ X-ray eye on the sky: Chandra

Thursday July 25, 2019: On Mars, better it's the dust devil you know

Friday July 26, 2019: Jaw-dropping time-lapse storm video: Vorticity 2


Et alia

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!